[lit-ideas] Re: Wikipedia

  • From: Chris Bruce <bruce@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 00:11:10 +0200

On 22. Okt 2006, at 19:36, JimKandJulieB@xxxxxxx wrote:

In recent weeks I note you academicians out there have been citing Wik. pretty frequently.  I haven't visited the site for months (perhaps it's changed?) and initially I liked the theoretical idea behind it, but the more I read, the more I thought, "you know, Jo Shmo could be editing or writing this article out of the pure fantasy of his head....".  It seemed more to me like gossip than scholarship.  Someone want to set me straight?

Well I don't know whether I am one of the academicians that you mean, but I did recently 'cite' Wikipedia.

Note however the context: a piece on Paris Hilton. Moreover a piece on 'Paris Hilton' - i.e., the object of gossip (and whether that 'Paris Hilton' bears any resemblance to Paris Hilton, or any other person living or dead was irrelevant to my purposes). Furthermore, I cite the 'unidentified contributors' to Wikipedia - as close as I can get to an 'unidentified source' (i.e. a source generally used in items of gossip).

A recent program on the German version of Wikipedia made the same judgement that you do (looking up information on Wikipedia was compared to asking people you run into on the street - you may get useful information and you may get ...).

The one time I attempted to use Wikipedia to find information on a serious topic - the Holocaust - I noticed some rather curiously worded paragraphs with links that led me to white supremacist and neo-nazi sites. I believe that the entry has since been 'cleaned up', but ....

Chris Bruce
Kiel, Germany
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